EASTER is always a crucial period in the Point-to-Point season, with 17 meetings scheduled over the holiday weekend and multiple successes enhance an individual’s chances of taking one of the major awards.
Will Biddick was seven in front of James King at the start of the day, but the latter’s five-timer at Chaddesley Corbett on Saturday afternoon could prove the turning point if Biddick fails to respond to this challenge and the Jockeys Championship now has a different dimension.
These events were witnessed by one of the biggest crowds seen at this venue for a number of years.
King started and ended the meeting with a winner. His first victory being supplied by Rock House in the Goffs Would Like to Thank Robert Chugg Four and Five year old Maiden, although during the early stages of this contest you would have got long odds against the four-year-old achieving that feat, as his jumping could be described as cautious and deliberate, before he soon warmed to his task.
Galassian who had caught the eye at Shelfield Park set the early pace, with the field closely bunched with Westbell acting as whipper in. Galassian remained the lead as they met the rising ground, but Rock House had now got his act together and was disputing second with Just for Fame.
Racing downhill towards the 3-mile start, Rock House quickened into the lead and established a 5-length advantage, but Ben Bromley’s fought back and was still in with a chance when the partnership took a crashing fall, which resulted in the jockey missing rides later in the afternoon.
Left well clear by his rival’s departure Rock House came home unchallenged. Trainer Fran Poste said: “We were going to turn him away, as he is a bit weak, but I liked the way he quickened past his rivals today”. Chatting with Robert Bellamy after the race it was confirmed the horse was for sale.
Area Secretary Nickie Sheppard is sore but okay after being kicked escorting her runner No Dice back to the unsaddling enclosure.
The Conditions attracted just three runners but they were all evenly matched and it produced an exciting race. Golden Tobouggan with Luke Scott replacing injured Ben Bromley set the pace and they maintained their lead until passed by the favourite Spanish Jump and Kaproyale at the fourth from home.
There was little between the two main protagonists as they raced downhill towards the second last, but the complexion of the race changed when Spanish Jump pecked on landing, and handed the advantage to his rival who quickened away to provide King and Poste with the second leg of their double.
The Lorna Brooke Memorial Qualifier attracted this year’s Connolly’s Red Mills Leading Horse Southfield Theatre, who already has six wins to his credit. Now 14-years-old the winner shows the exuberance of a horse half his age and all appeared to be going to plan when Lilly Bradstock took the favourite into his normal front running role, a task which they tackled with their normal enthusiasm.
Chase Me was partnered by Rosie Howarth who had made the journey down from Yorkshire were the favourites nearest rival during the first half of the race. Katie Sinclair and Tb Broke Her moved into second place going out on their final circuit and that order remain unchanged for the remainder of the race and it looked as though it was going to be another pillar to post victory for the Sarah Bradstock trained runner.
Their advantage was constant throughout the final half mile, but approaching two out Tb Broke Her started to inch closer with a considerable weight advantage proving a contributing factor. Tb Broke closed with every stride on the run in but just failed.
Grand National winning owner Robert Waley-Cohen was back on more familiar territory on Saturday afternoon, when the Warwickshire based owner took the final Classic Race of the season, the Lady Dudley Cup with Igor, just seven days after the biggest success of his career.
Waley-Cohen and his son Sam have been familiar figures on the Point-to-Point scene for two decades, but the latter announced his retirement a couple of days before his National win, but last year’s Champion Rider James King proved a worthy replacement and added this race to his expanding C.V.
Ennistown had finished in front of Igor in last year’s race but King took a grip on the race from the start and set what appeared to be a moderate gallop, with Miss Seagreen and Stacks Mountain racing in his shadow.
Ennistown made a number of mistakes while Stacks Mountain was struggling to make an impact. Igor quickened the pace again at the far end of the course and raced uphill with an increased advantage which his rivals struggled to reduce.
He turned back for home with a clear advantage, while Miss Seagreens effort petered out tamely and Stacks Mountain ran better than expected to claim the runners up berth. Waley-Cohen was winning the race for the second time, his last success was with Iilut back in 2007.
Having had to settle for third place in the big race, owner Clive Bennett’s Miss May Hill was soundly beaten by Let Me Entertain U in the Savills sponsored Restricted and the large crowd were certainly provided with that when owner Mark Dunphy was questioned by Robert Bellamy after the race.
Hopes of a winner to aid Nickie Sheppards recovery were dashed when Evron unseated Milo Herbert at the first open ditch. Tommie O’Brien was left in front at this point on Miss May Hill until they were joined by Hill of Hope and Let Me Entertain U at the fourth from home.
Hill of Hope led briefly on the uphill run into the home straight, but King repeated the tactics that had proved so successful in earlier races, sent his mount to the front and she galloped on resolutely to land the spoils for owner Mark Dunphy and trainer Gabriela Gajova who is based near Ross on Wye.
Gentle Frank and Robert Hawker were deemed unlucky losers after they ran past the last when level with Flying Colum at Maisemore but had a chance of redemption in the Maiden Conditions.
She’ll Be Back and Rockhamton vied for the lead with the latter leading Mount Oscar down the back straight accompanied by Forest Chimes and the improving Gentle Frank.
Tommie O’Brien’s mount led as they straightened up for home but Robert Hawker and Gentle Frank and made their effort at the second last, but unfortunately for their supporters the favourite fluffed his lines and was down on his nose, a mistake that cost him the race as he could never recover the lost ground.
The winner was dismounted on the way back to the winners enclosure but recovered quickly when copious amounts of water were applied. This victory was one for the locals with the winner trained at Morville by Phil Rowley for Enville based owner Diana Williams.
Favourite Blackwater Bramble carrying the Smith-Maxwell colours was always struggling in the Members with a strong pace set by Very First Time despite his 10 lb penalty.
Tiggy Vale-Titterton’s mount led from the start and the partnership were 15-lengths clear at one point and that advantage was maintained until half a mile from home where they were caught and passed by Pat Tollit’s Hidden Charmer.
King timed his run to perfection catching the long-time leader at the third from home. The runner up did his best in the home straight but Hidden Charmer clung on to his advantage on the flat. The winner is trained by Callum Griffiths at Billingsley near Bridgnorth.
1ST ROCK HOUSE JAMES KING 11/2
2ND JUST FOUR FAME
3RD NO DICE
1ST KAPROYALE JAMES KING 6-4
2ND SPANISH JUMP
3RD GOLDEN TOBOUGGAN
1ST SOUTHFIELD THEATRE MISS L BRADSTOCK 1-2
2ND Tb BROKE HER
3RD CHASE ME
1ST IGOR JAMES KING 2-1
2ND STACKS MOUNTAIN
3RD MISS SEAGREEN
1ST LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU JAMES KING 7-4 2ND MISS MAY HILL
(ONLY 2 FINISHED)
1ST FOREST CHIMES TOMMIE O’BRIEN 3-1
2ND GENTLE FRANK
3RD MOUNT OSCAR
1ST HIDDEN CHARMER JAMES KING 5-4
2ND VERY FIRST TIME
3RD BLACKWATER BRAMBLE